Fundraising appeal launched to help isolated domestic abuse victims

A charity which helps victims of domestic abuse has started an urgent fundraising appeal to support people trapped at home because of coronavirus.

The Dash [Domestic Abuse Stops Here] charity provides a range of specialist services to women, men and children affected by domestic abuse across the Royal Borough, Slough and South Bucks.

It is seeking to raise £150,000 so the charity’s staff can keep up their essential work at a time when people need it most.

CEO of Dash, Alison Bourne, said the new rules on staying at home present ‘an absolute nightmare’ for victims.

She explained that during the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, which recorded the first patients of the virus, incidents of domestic abuse increased by 30 per cent.

“And that’s only what’s recorded,” said Alison.

Since the Government announced on Monday, March 23 that the nation should stay at home, Dash has seen a significant increase in people reaching out, which Alison predicts will rise.

She said the forecasted hike in domestic abuse, which includes violent, economic, psychological, emotional and sexual abuse, essentially stems from ‘increased isolation’.

“One of the tactics that perpetrators already use is cutting you off,” she said.

“[They] isolate you from family and friends, and of course now that’s gone up exponentially

because you can’t physically see people, so you can’t get out of the home to escape or get some respite.”

Children living with perpetrators will also be subject to harm, either as victims of abuse themselves, or because they are witness to it, which Alison says ‘impacts children in later life massively’.

She anticipates that economic abuse will be prevalent during the outbreak because of the knock-on effect it is having on employment.

“People are going to be so much more vulnerable, those of us who are free-lance, the pressure of job losses, the lack of income.”

She added: “Obviously it’s different in every case but if it’s the victim who can’t work, they are then reliant on the perpetrator.”

Despite 25 per cent of Dash staff either unwell or self-isolating, the charity is still operating but, with community fundraising having stopped, Alison said these are ‘really trying times’.

“The key message is, we’re still going, we have not shut down, we’re adapting so try to contact us, we will respond,” she said.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, writing in her column in the Mail on Sunday, said at the weekend that refuges remain open and that ‘while our advice is to stay at home, anyone who is at risk of, or experiencing, domestic abuse, is still able to leave and seek refuge’.

To donate to the Dash charity or to contact them click here. dashcharity.org.uk

To download the SafeLives victims and survivors guide for staying safe during COVID-19 here

For 24 hour advice, please call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000247.

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